Denver boys and girls runners take 1st at Dike-New Hartford
The cross country season is quickly coming to a close and the racing spikes will be put away until the next season, but Denver’s runners proved last week at Fox Ridge Golf Course in Dike that there’s work still to be done before that can happen.

The Cyclones were entered in four races between middle school and high school and managed to win three of those races and finish 2nd in the other.

Dike chose to split the high school races into a 1A and 2A/3A division, and then run all girls together and all boys together (no JV races). Middle school had all 1A - 3A schools running together.

Mollie Hansen of Hudson covered the mile course in 6:27 to take individual title honors.
Reeve Ristau and Hailey Homan were within sight of Hansen as they finished 4th and 6th in 6:37 and 6:49. Anna Mulert just missed a medal placing 11th in 7:13. Lily Cooper ran 7:31 for 22nd. Avery Trunkhill, Avery McIntosh and Haley Lalk finished 31st, 33rd and 37th (7:42, 7:47 and 7:52). Sophie Sanderson placed 59th and Georgiana Darr 132nd in 8:14 and 12:41. Denver’s middle school girls won their 3rd title of the season in a close one against Grundy Center-Gladbrook Reinbeck, 42-49.

The middle school boys’ team title was also a close one, but Denver didn’t quite score low enough to take the title. Jesup won with 42 to Denver’s 46.

Talen LaFrentz was back in the lineup after an ankle sprain and took the commanding lead right from the gun. His time of 5:48 put him 16 seconds ahead of 2nd place Devon Lotts of Dike-NH in 6:04. Gabe Swales also ran well to medal for 5th, covering the course in 6:17. Trevor Baas was 18th in 6:48. Josh Rabenhorst ran a personal best 6:57 to place 23rd. Joe Rabenhorst was 40th (7:19) and Xander Peterson 76th in 8:12. Josiah Swales crossed shortly later in 8:18 for 80th.

“The kids were a little discouraged that their times weren’t faster than when they ran their last one-mile race at the beginning of the season,” noted Coach Sandy Sabelka, “but the coaches all agreed that the course was probably a bit longer than a mile. They ran well and they ran competitively, and it is clearly visible that they are much faster than they were five weeks ago. This is such a talented and determined group of young runners who work hard to better their times. There are going to be great teammates and strong contributors to this program for years to come.”

With the results of this meet being a pretty significant factor in determining district pairings, the Denver girls’ varsity knew they needed to finally come together and finish ahead of at least one team currently rated ahead of them in 2A. Doing so would hopefully give them a better chance of not being sent to the same district as three other rated teams (only the top three teams qualify for state at each district meet). That meant that Dike-New Hartford or Starmont were the targets to get after. Both have been rated ahead of the Denver most of the season.

Well the Lady Cyclones came well-prepared to get the job done. They not only beat one of the two but finished ahead of both and secured 1st place overall in the team title with 80 points. Benton was 2nd with 83, Charles City 3rd with 88, Starmont 4th 111 and DNH 5th with 112.

“We are not very deep on the girls’ side with only 12 runners, and we’ve been dealing with a few injuries and minor setbacks all season,” noted Coach Sabelka. “But we have remained confident that, if we all took the right precautions early on when needed and put our trust in the process, the time would come for us all to put it together when it was most needed. This meet was huge for us and will hopefully be a key performance that splits the five rated teams in the area between two districts.”

Charles City’s Kiki Connell and Iowa Falls-Alden’s Ellie Meyer were unchallenged up front from the start finishing 1st and 2nd in 18:33 and 18:58. Denver’s Chloe Ristau put in what Sabelka credits as her best performance of the season to lead and pull away from the rest of the 141 runners shortly into the 2nd mile. She cruised across the finish for 3rd in 20:14. After having to miss a few early season meets, Amber Homan continues to make a strong move up in the line-up. She crossed for 4th in 20:32. Laci Even, only 10 seconds off her season best and one spot shy of a medal, placed 16th in 21:53. Aubrey Decker and Emily Herbst placed 26th and 31st in 22:13 and 22:53 and Ava Dunkin 44th in 23:42. Kira Courtelyou ran a season best 24:33 to take 58th.

With only one girls’ and one boys’ race, Kendall Cortelyou continued with Denver’s lineup to place 76th (25:51). Hannah Even was 102nd in her last time on the Dike course in 27:31.
It was difficult for anyone else to match the efforts put forth by the Denver boys. Putting all five scorers in the top 15 of 141 runners gave them a point total of 41, 42 points ahead of 2nd place Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s total of 83. Aidan Dolan just missed his career best split by two seconds to take the bronze medal in 17:35. Alex Krabbenhoft, Kyler Matthias and Alex Larson then went 7th, 8th and 9th in 17:56, 18:03 and 18:19. Layne Fober was the 5th scorer securing the last Cyclone medal for 14th (18:29), and Jack Mulert just finished out of medal range in 16th (18:31). Max Schwandt completed the top-7 line up placing 39th (19:49), but Jacob Steege, in yet another career PR for the season, was two seconds behind to lead the JV crew. He finished 40th in 19:51.

The Cyclones kept coming. Cole Miller was 44th (20:01), Ethan Larson, 47th (20:10), Grant Pautsch, 52nd (20:16) and Logun Rathbun, 55th (20:19), with Pautch and Rathbun running best splits of the year. Senior Ben Kasemeier crossed in 20:20 to place 58th. Carson Haase was 64th (20:38), Neal Pinter 71st (20:59) and Garrett Even 87th (22:04), a fourth season best for Pinter. Also crossing with his fourth best of the season, Kale Lyons was 94th in 22:20. Nate Rabenhorst and Jarett Clayton took 97th and 98th in 22:35 and 22:42. Ashton Gonnerman took just a tenth of a second off his previous race, but it was enough for a second consecutive career PR 20:07.00. Jacob Lyons and Conner Vauthier got back into the lineup after injury setbacks to place 117th (24:36) and 123rd (25:14), while Jeremiah Giesler slid in between them taking 122nd (25:01). Darwin Shollenbarger bettered his time by almost two minutes to place 139th in 26:55.

Kenny Day of GC-GR won the boys’ race in 17:08 with Nicolas Thompson of West Marshall finishing 2nd (17:19).

“Our boys keep continuing to run solid and keep a pretty tight pack,” said Sabelka, “even our JV runners. Had they split the runners into a JV division, I have no doubt they would have finished on top as well, and it was good to see all of them compete against JV and varsity runners alike. Now we just need to fine-tune things and keep their legs fresh going into conference and then districts, and make sure we hit our peak just at the right time. This part of the season is critical.”

Denver hosts the NICL Conference Championships this Thursday, Oct. 15 at Willow Run Country Club. Middle school races start off at 3:00 PM and 3:25 PM with varsity girls scheduled at 3:50 PM, varsity boys at 4:20 PM, JV girls at 4:50 PM and JV boys at 5:20 PM. Social distancing will be required, but the course covers a large area, so please come out and support our Denver Cyclone runners!
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